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Ghostbusters (1984)

tomatometer

97

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 60
Fresh: 58 | Rotten: 2

An infectiously fun blend of special effects and comedy, with Bill Murray's hilarious deadpan performance leading a cast of great comic turns.

71

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 2

An infectiously fun blend of special effects and comedy, with Bill Murray's hilarious deadpan performance leading a cast of great comic turns.

audience

88

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 1,031,779

My Rating

Movie Info

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson star as a quartet of Manhattan-based "paranormal investigators". When their government grants run out, the former three go into business as The Ghostbusters, later hiring Hudson on. Armed with electronic paraphernalia, the team is spectacularly successful, ridding The Big Apple of dozens of ghoulies, ghosties and long-legged beasties. Tight-lipped bureaucrat William Atherton regards the Ghostbusters as a bunch of charlatans, but is forced

Jun 29, 1999

$3.5M

Columbia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (60) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (58) | Rotten (2) | DVD (32)

On balance, Ghostbusters is a hoot. It's Murray's picture, and in a triumph of mind over matter, he blows away the film's boring special effects with his one-liners.

August 19, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whoever thought of having evil's final manifestation take the form of a 100-ft. marshmallow deserves the rational mind's eternal gratitude.

October 5, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comment (1)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Only intermittently impressive.

May 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety | Comments (19)
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Essentially a $30 million version of Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy but not at all a bad time, thanks mainly to Bill Murray's incredibly dry line readings and director Ivan Reitman's maintenance of a moderately coherent tone and plotline.

May 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (2)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The story of a trio of incompetent 'experts' in the paranormal (Murray, Aykroyd and Ramis), who set up as ghostbusters after they are canned from their college sinecures, is less cynical a construction than it sounds.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This movie is an exception to the general rule that big special effects can wreck a comedy.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Thirty years later, there are still rumblings of making another sequel, but no one would dare suggest a reboot or re-imagining; Ghostbusters is perfect exactly as it is.

August 30, 2014 Full Review Source: MovieCrypt.com
MovieCrypt.com

If you've never experienced GHOSTBUSTERS on the big screen, you really need to go see this. If not I'm afraid you'll have to turn in your geek card.

August 29, 2014 Full Review Source: JoBlo's Movie Emporium
JoBlo's Movie Emporium

A fantasy, but with no touches of reality at all, to be enjoyed for its zany humour typical of the "National Lampoon" school from which several of its contributors are drawn.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Ghostbusters thrives on the fine line between taking it all seriously enough to be scary, then poking fun at it in the most creative ways possible.

June 9, 2014 Full Review Source: Mania.com
Mania.com

GHOSTBUSTERS is a movie that I've seen well over a hundred times and I'm still not sick of it, nor do I think I ever will. It's an iconic comedy that I think has held up very well over the past 30 years.

May 22, 2014 Full Review Source: Film Geek Central
Film Geek Central

If for nothing else, deserves to be fondly remembered for bringing the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man into the world.

March 1, 2014 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm
LarsenOnFilm

An exciting and fun genre hybrid rarely mastered.

October 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Director Ivan Reitman keeps the Aykroyd-Ramis screenplay zipping right along, creating something like Abbott & Costello Meet the Exorcist. Aykroyd and Murray make the perfect summer tonic for raising spirits.

July 29, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

In both the funny and the (mildly) scary moments, the cast does itself proud.

May 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

"Ghostbusters" is a fun romp with a couple of comedy's greatest stars at the top of their game.

February 26, 2012 Full Review Source: MediaMikes
MediaMikes

As funny, spooky and marvellous as ever.

November 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Digital Spy
Digital Spy

It provoked huge box-office success in 1984 and is still director Ivan Reitman's defining movie.

October 31, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

The leads' chemistry is almost, well, spooky, Dan Aykroyd's nerdy enthusiasm rubbing deliciously against a persona-perfecting turn from Bill Murray - and there's even the odd surprise.

October 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

The often dazzling, special effects-driven slapstick tends to overshadow the fact that there are some slyer, more sophisticated laughs on offer in this blockbusting family comedy.

October 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

What's not to like?

October 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Paranormal fun for tweens and up; some scares.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A comedy first, a horror film second... but a successful enough hybrid of those things that it would be wrong to try to limit it generically.

August 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

The movie's tongue-in-cheek (and pre-subprime) satire of surging capitalist hubris is scarcely mitigated by the necessary fairy-tale ending.

August 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Ghostbusters

"Ghostbusters" stands as one of the best horror/comedies out there. It is hilarious in almost every sense of the word, even if not in the conventional way, and it never falls short with the cheesy scares. It can be genuinely shocking at times but that is taken away immediately throughout the film, especially due to the lack of seriousness. This all being said, "Ghostbusters" is an extremely unique film that will never be able to be touched by any filmmaker. It's smart, cool, slick, witty, scary, and intense. The only issue this film has is that the title is not explored to it's highest potential. It sets up a great premise but it takes just a tad too long to reach the climax in my opinion. Overall, I loved every minute of "Ghostbusters" and it deserves the fame that it has.
September 17, 2014
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Ghostbusters is quite simply one of my most beloved films of all time. The iconic production is a perfect marriage of a special effects extravaganza with spectacular performances to create one side-splitting gem. Bill Murray is the undeniable star and he's in top form as Dr. Peter Venkman a sly, laid back scientist with deadpan delivery that seems more concerned with dating his pretty client Dana Barrett than actually getting to the bottom of her disturbances. Sigourney Weaver nicely straddles the line between exasperated annoyance and charmed love interest. Bill Murray likewise has great camaraderie with his fellow Ghostbusters Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis). Those two are also responsible for writing the finely tuned screenplay. It zips, it pops and it never lets up. Ernie Hudson joins them later as Winston Zeddemore. He delivers my favorite quip after the group is blown away by the lightening bolts of an evil entity from another dimension. There is a slew of funny dialogue and Rick Moranis' nerdy portrayal of Louis Tully delivers a lot of it. He's hilarious. "Okay, who brought the dog?" he grins after hearing the growl from the long horned beast hiding in his closet.

The spectacular special effects support the story, but they never threaten to overshadow the actors. The technology was state of the art at the time, even earning an Academy Award nomination. But it lost to the mine cart scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Perhaps time has rendered the optics a bit quaint to a modern audience. The sight of that devil dog leaping from the closet and running around the city is the most dicey. But it's the comedic interactions between characters that hold our focus, not the whiz bang appeal of the visual displays. Ok so there's that "monster" near the end that dwarfs everything else. When the Destructor of their choosing threatens the city and their very existence, it's memorable. That's the kind of silly moment of brilliance that make you realize you're watching a work of creative genius. Oh yeah. I adore this film.

fastfilmreviews.com
September 7, 2014
hobster1

Super Reviewer

five stars...
August 30, 2014
YodaMasterJedi
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

There are a select number of films held in such high regard in popular culture that to even faintly criticise them is considered heresy. Like Star Wars before it, Ghostbusters is a film which seemingly everyone is aware of, and even if you've never seen it you can probably hum the theme tune or quote the script. It's a seemingly iconic work, a high-water mark of American comedy that anyone with a sense of humour should enjoy.

What such an attitude fails to acknowledge is that film taste is inherently subjective, particularly when it comes to comedy. Regular readers of my reviews will already have a fair idea of what my tastes are: I like my comedies on the darker side, preferably surreal but crucially substantial - I like comedies that are about something. It may be, therefore, that I am predisposed to dislike Ghostbusters, being as it is a shallow, high-concept star vehicle. Or, just as probably, it may be that it just isn't funny.

There are a couple of aspects to Ghostbusters which we are able to admire regardless of how funny we find it. Despite being essentially a vehicle for former Saturday Night Live stars, the film is a reasonably literate affair, at least as far as the horror genre is concerned. There are big references throughout to the work of H. P. Lovecraft, including the isolated, academic nature of its protagonists, the slimy nature of the ghosts (such as Slimer himself), and of course the involvement of ancient gods who are at best indifferent towards humanity.

The film also deserves credit for being a mainstream blockbuster which has intelligent people as its protagonists. We've become used to our summer blockbusters being populated by characters who are complete idiots, bound up in plots which can only make sense if everyone involved is either stupid or doesn't care. Ghostbusters, one of the biggest blockbusters in history, bucks this trend: it unashamedly celebrates the cleverness of its male leads, giving us characters who succeed through brains rather than good looks or good luck.

Unfortunately, this bit of praise also brings us onto one of the big problems with Ghostbusters, namely the characters. While Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis made their heroes intellectual in nature, each of the three main parts are severely underwritten. Bill Murray's character seems driven only by a need to be sarcastic or seductive, while Aykroyd and Ramis do little else but stand around explaining the plot. No matter how many dry one-liners Murray gets through, the characters don't feel like real people.

The best way to illustrate this point is the words of Stephen Fry, when he was interviewed about the difference between British and American comedy. Fry argued that the archetypal American comic hero is a wise-cracker who is above those around him, embodiying the belief in American culture that everything can be bettered or improved. While British comic heroes are distinctive characters (and expressions of failure), American comic heroes are "not characters at all, they're just brilliant repositories of fantastic, killer one-liners."

Aykroyd, Murray and Ramis are all essentially playing to type, and there is no real chemistry between them because the types are constantly in awkward competition with each other. Murray's deadpan wise-cracking doesn't gel with Aykroyd's fast-talking or Ramis' forgettable geekiness. The same goes for Rick Moranis, whose socially incompetent accountant is excrutiating: it's played so broadly and unrelentingly that it always grates against the story. Even Sigourney Weaver is underused, with her character existing only to get hit on, first by Murray and then by Zuul.

Of course, it is possible for a film with stereotypical characters to still fire if its script has a strong enough story. The James Bond series is absolutely littered with archetypal characters, with the best films in the series having a good enough story to make them not matter so much. But despite its faithful nods to Lovecraft and its intellectual protagonists, Ghostbusters still manages to make the very least of its material.

The plot of Ghostbusters essentially takes the first half of the 1946 film Spook Busters and then slowly unravels it through a steadily increasing parade of special effects. Like the Beverly Hills Cop series, the story is not so much a story as it is a series of set-pieces; they are linked together loosely by montage, but you could still watch them in any order with the same impact. As for the dialogue, 80% of it is meaningless jargon designed to big up the characters' intelligence. But simply saying a lot of long words doesn't make a character smart, giving us even less reason to bond with them.

As with Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters could have had a much more complex and satisfying story if a little bit more effort had been put into it. The idea of man-made structures being engineered to harness the power of gods is a nice, pulpy idea; it's only a hop, skip and jump from the work of Erich von Däniken, whose writings were a big influence on the fourth Indiana Jones film. When allied to Lovecraft, this could have formed an interesting premise, with a team of scientists seeking to stop an individual driven mad by knowledge of ancient demons, and trying to unleash those demons onto the human world.

Part of the reason Ghostbusters doesn't work on a story level is its indecisive pussy-footing around spiritual questions. Any film or story in which ghosts are involved immediately raises questions about the afterlife - what ghosts are, how they function, where the boundaries lie between different worlds and so forth. But the film either fails to acknowledge such questions or provides contradicting answers; for instance, it accepts the existence of extremely powerful gods, but also believes that humans can conquer said gods with little more than beams of energy. It's another indication of the laziness present in the script, as the film squanders another interesting angle for the sake of a simple, easy-to-follow climax.

The special effects in Ghostbusters were provided by Boss Films, who later provided the effects for John Carpenter's cult disaster Big Trouble in Little China. In both films they dominate the visual landscape rather than adding to the physical sets, to the point where the characters become swamped by them. The big special effects ending, involving the gateway on top of the skyscraper, is a big anticlimax because it doesn't feel physical or like a natural continuation of the narrative. Even the physical effects, such as Zuul's appearance in the fridge, aren't that convincing even for the day.

Then we come to the problems with the film's direction. Ghostbusters looks and sounds perfectly okay, boasting decent cinematography from László Kovács (Easy Rider) and a score from John Landis' long-time collaborator Elmer Bernstein. But as far as its direction goes, Ivan Reitman is every bit at sea with his cast here as Martin Brest was on Beverly Hills Cop. In both cases the camerawork is overly basic and the editing is slack, as though Reitman just left the cameras on until someone said something funny.

In a further comparison with Beverly Hills Cop, there are a number of tonal problems with Ghostbusters. The film doesn't have the uncomfortable homophobic undercurrent running through it like Brest's film, but it doesn't have a great deal of respect for its female characters. The scene where Zuul captures Dana, in which hands come through the chair and grab her, is uncomfortably rapey, and the levitation scene (which rips off The Exorcist) is just another excuse to put the character in needlessly sexual situations. Blockbusters are often accused of being built around the needs of teenage boys, and looking at scenes like the latter, it's not hard to see why.

Ghostbusters is a deeply unfunny comedy which deserves little if any of its glowing reputation. Despite a number of dry laughs and admirable decisions, it squanders most of its potential in favour of cheap stereotypes, sex jokes and special effects, none of which engage to any satisfying degree. It's not the low point in the careers of any of its stars (which is very telling of each of them), but it hasn't stood the test of time anything like as well as we've been led to believe. In short, it's a massive disappointment that's even bigger than the Twinkie.
April 9, 2014
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

    1. Peter Venkman: I'm right in the middle of something, Ray!
    – Submitted by Brian D (2 months ago)
    1. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams!
    – Submitted by Matthew D (9 months ago)
    1. Peter Venkman: Back off, man! I'm a scientist!
    – Submitted by Matthew D (9 months ago)
    1. Peter Venkman: Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown.
    – Submitted by Swayamdeep S (19 months ago)
    1. Peter Venkman: Back of man, I'm a Scientist.
    – Submitted by Crispin T (20 months ago)
    1. Peter Venkman: Alice, I'm going to ask you a couple of standard questions, ok? Have you or any of your family ever been diagnosed Schizophrenic? Mentally incompetent?
    2. Librarian: My uncle thought he was St. Jerome.
    3. Peter Venkman: I'd call that a big yes.
    – Submitted by Jarryd R (20 months ago)
View all quotes (63)

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